Le Petit Tour de France: Cote d’Azur (Le Sentir du Littoral, Monaco, and Menton)

My last day on the Côte d’Azur was a busy one: I took the bus from Nice to Cap d’Ail and walked along le Sentir du Littoral (“The Coastal Path”) all the way to Monaco, and then bused to the adorable border town of Menton from there. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the end of it all!

 

I didn’t see much of Cap d’Ail – just the lovely residential neighborhood I walked through to reach the Coastal Path…

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After unsuccessfully trying to reach the path from Plage Mala thanks to a downed tree, I found a different entrance through a lovely terraced park on the side of the hill…

 

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View from Plage Mala…

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The park…

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When I reached the path itself, I was absolutely giddy… It’s just so gorgeous, and it was wonderful to be so close to the sea. The wind howls and the waves crash against the rocks and even up onto the path itself in some spots (signage on the path suggests not walking there on days with “rough seas”)… Check out this VIDEO where I almost get soaked by an incoming wave…

 

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Joggers run by, and people walk their dogs – like with the bus commute along the coast, I can’t imagine having such amazing scenery be a part of my daily routine. How lucky the are! (Although if the houses along the path are any indication, these people aren’t only lucky – they’re quite wealthy too)…

 

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After a little over a mile, the path ends, leaving you in a parking lot in Monaco (Definitely a bit anti-climactic – perhaps it would be better to walk the path in the opposite direction so you end up on the beautiful Plage Mala at the end instead? Oh well, next time!)…

 

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I found Monaco pretty unimpressive compared to the rest of the Côte d’Azur. Everything feels oddly modern for such an old part of the world – it’s like a big outdoor shopping mall, yachts and high-end boutiques abound. Although beauty can certainly be found there, Katherine Hepburn once called it “a pimple on the chin of the south of France,” and I have to agree with her. I walked through Monaco-Ville and la Condamine briefly, where I visited a traveling carnival (appropriate for this ‘carnival’ of a place), and saw Princess Grace Kelly’s palace sitting atop a cliff…

 

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The palace…

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The carnival…

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After that, I took a quick bus ride to Monte Carlo, mostly just so I could say I’d been there and laugh about it later. I’m sure those of you who know me well can see the humor of ME in a place like Monte Carlo – not exactly the most natural fit in the world, that’s for sure!

 

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The (in)famous Casino de Monte Carlo…

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Still, though, Monaco’s got some beautiful views…

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After about only two hours in Monaco, I decided I needn’t waste any more time there, so I hopped back on the bus and headed east to Menton – a lovely town just 2 miles from the border with Italy, where you hear almost as much Italian spoken in the streets as you do French…

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Wandering the narrow passages in la Vieille Ville (“Old City”) atop the hill is wonderful – it’s like playing hide and seek with the city itself. You go through tunnels, up and down staircases, along narrow corridors, not sure where you’ll end up or what you’ll find. I wrote in my journal that if the small hilltop village of Eze and the coastal town of Villefrance-sur-Mer had a baby, it would be Vieux Menton – the bright colors of Villefranche-sur-Mer combine with the tiny maze-like pathways of Eze to create this delightful part of town. I wish I had more time to explore there…

La Vieille Ville, as seen from the beach…

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And in the thick of it…

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The courtyard of la Basilique St. Michel (left) and la Chapelle de Pénitents Blancs (right)…

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The basilica as seen from the beach…

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The fantastic stairs leading up the hill to the basilica…

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… and a view of those stairs from the top…

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La Chapelle de Pénitents Blancs…

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La Basilique St. Michel…

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Like in Nice, an old cemetery sits at the top of the hill, providing a quiet place to appreciate the beautiful views…

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And of course, this being a coastal town, there are lovely beachs and a small port where you can see Italy in the distance…

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The port…

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And so we’ve come to the end of my time on the beautiful Blue Coast. How sad I was to leave it! This special corner of the world has carved a place in my heart, and I very much hope to find my way back there again one day…

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… mais c’est la vie! The travels must go on, and so they did…

 

Next stop on le Petit Tour de France: a week in the large and lovely city of Lyon! À bientôt!

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